Jewellery Quarter – November Update

It's been a busy few weeks for me and I've fallen behind with my blogging, so here are some of the things I missed from around the Jewellery Quarter:

Shout Festival projection on to Big Peg
  • As part of Birmingham's SHOUT Festival, 30 LGBT artists from around the world saw their work projected on to The Big Peg (image above!). The Birmingham Queer Open drew entries from around the globe and selected artists represented countries as diverse as Canada, USA, Russia, Israel and Italy.

  • The Jewellery Quarter’s farmers market, 24 Carrots, continues to do well. The Christmas special market takes place on Saturday 5th December.

  • An invite-only stakeholder consultation day for the Jewellery Quarter’s “Golden Square” will take place on Tuesday 15th December.

  • You can view the latest proposals for Albion Square here.

  • The Vaults on Newhall Hill slipped into administration but it is hoped a buyer will be found.

  • Last week the Jewellery Quarter’s themed Christmas lights were switched on and as is now custom, a three-legged Santa Race took place! MyJQ captured the fun on video:


Mechu License Restricted

Mechu Summer Row

Mechu on Summer Row has had its license restricted by the Council following a license review brought about by a resident of Islington Gates. The venue will now only be able to serve alcohol until 1am (Sun-Thurs) or 2am (Fri & Sat), with the venue able to stay open for an additional hour. The license had previously allowed Mechu to stay open until 4am.

From the minutes of the meeting: "The Sub-Committee's reasons for imposing these conditions are due to concerns by local residents in relation to noise nuisance and antisocial behaviour."

I wrote some time ago about the noise problems (from people and taxis) suffered by local residents. There were numerous other conditions emposed by the review, including specific taxi instructions and the fitting of a noise limiter at the premises. I'd be interested to know at what level this will be set.

The owners of Mechu have 21 days to appeal.

Click these links to read more about licensing and planning issues in Ladywood ward.


Brum’s Best Budget Eateries

Media coverage of Birmingham this week focuses on food in anticipation of this weekend's Taste of Birmingham festival over at Cannon Hill Park, which starts tomorrow. Today’s Guardian features a list of Brum’s Top 10 Budget Eateries, with some of my personal favourites making the cut. My local The Lord Clifden, the Bullring’s Urban Pie and the Friends of the Earth Warehouse Café in Digbeth all feature.

Also on the list is Ladywood's very own Great British Eatery, which I blogged about last weekend.


License Review for Mechu on Summer Row

As a result of complaints from several residents of Islington Gates on Fleet Street, a license review is underway for Mechu on Summer Row on the grounds of "Public Nuisance". Mechu currently has a 4am license.

"Reason: The club causes a public nusiance in the form of excessive and unnecessary incessant noise from loud amplified music, taxi horns sounding, and noise from patrons leaving the club"

Mechu on Summer Row
Mechu with Islington Gates in the background

Local residents in the Islington Gates development, particularly those in Block A closest to Summer Row, are regularly disturbed at "kicking-out time" by groups of drunken folk singing and screaming whilst waiting for taxis. On occasion these taxis park illegally and tout for business, clogging up the road and creating more noise (honking). This video shot by a resident a few months ago illustrates the issue:

A few months ago the Council held meetings with Mechu, who offered to use one of their employees as an unofficial taxi marshall taking bookings and attempting to stop illegal touting. There was some initial success although the problem seems to have persisted. The Council's licensing officers also pay regular visits to Summer Row which clears up the problem while they're there, but when they're not visible the problem returns.

The taxi issue is not solely down to Mechu of course, with Bluu, Apres and the Shakespeare all on the same strip. So to use taxi noise as a driver for a license review is ropey at best. I would assume the license review will concentrate on the noise from the club and any public order issues caused by patrons leaving the venue, rather than the noise from the taxis.

It also raises the question of how responsible a venue should be for its customers once they have left the premises? If a group of intoxicated ladies stay outside the venue for half-an-hour shouting for cabs or into their phones, who's responsibility is that?

Those eagle-eyed amongst you will note my support for The Rainbow in their battle against a Noise Abatement Order brought on by one resident of the Abacus Apartments in Digbeth. With the Rainbow situation, there is one complainer in a residential block a considerable distance away from the venue, the other side of a major road, apparently disturbed every so often. In this instance Islington Gates is directly opposite the club and numerous residents have consistently been disturbed.

The common argument is the venues were there first, therefore residents should expect noise. This holds true - the residents of Islington Gates were fully away of the bars when they moved in, however since then Summer Row and Mechu in particular has become livelier much later into the night.

So what are the potential solutions?

1) The Mechu license is restricted to 2am. This would ensure the area is free from noise by approximately 2.30am, instead of 4.30am. Perhaps this could be restricted to midnight on weekdays?

2) A signed taxi rank is created on Lionel Street, the other end of Summer Row. The difficulty here is marshalling and preventing illegal taxis from touting for business at the Fleet Street end.

You can comment on the license review by emailing licensing@birmingham.gov.uk before 9th July 2009.


Local pubs listed in Guardian Good Pub Guide

Great to see two local establishments listed in the Observer's Good Summer Pub Guide today. So hats off to my local the Lord Clifden and the Wellington.

Thanks to Chris Unitt for the heads-up.

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Birmingham Lives

This afternoon I popped into the 3rd Birmingham Lives Local History Fair at Beetham Tower. The size of the event was impressive with stalls from all manner of organisations and from all across the city. I wish I'd had longer to stay and explore, but alas I had to move on. But I managed to catch the Ladywood TNT News stall, the Old Ladywood stall and the Jewellery Quarter's own Pen Room stall, where I tried writing with a nib and ink for the first time in years - and didn't make a very good job of it!

The Old Ladywood collection was simply superb, with the very knowledgeable Mac Joseph (proud owner of Old Ladywood) on hand to talk visitors through the 30+ albums of photographs. I found some great shots of Edgbaston Reservoir, some old political literature and some fascinating pictures of pubs. The latter really interests me, not just because I enjoy a pint from time to time, but because you can track social changes within an area from the changes to the pubs.

Mac has produced a 2010 Old Ladywood calendar and at just £5 it's an absolute steal. You can download the order form here.

It was great to see such a good turnout and it just goes to show how many people in Birmingham care about preserving their heritage.